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SPG should be kept above party biases in multiparty democracy: Manish Tewari


ANI Politics
Hitting out at the Centre over the bill to amend Special Protection Group Act, Congress leader Manish Tewari on Wednesday said that SPG should be kept above party biases in a multiparty democracy.
"This is a multiparty democracy and such issues should be kept above party biases. Just because someone no longer remains Prime Minister does not mean that threat posed to them due to decisions taken by them in that position reduces," Tewari said in Lok Sabha during a discussion over the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill.
As per the SPG (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, proximate security will be provided by the force only to the prime minister and members of his immediate family if they live with him at his official residence.
Stating that SPG protectees were told in June that their threat assessment was increasing, he asked that what changed between June and November that SPG protection was removed without amending the law.
Tewari was referring to the withdrawal of SPG cover given to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and her family including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
The Congress leader said the reason given to remove SPG protection provided to former Prime Ministers is 'number of individuals to be provided SPG cover can potentially become quite large'.
"Same reason was given to remove security cover of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi," he said.
Earlier in the day at the Lower House, Home Minister Amit Shah said that there had been "dilution" in the SPG Act and the Bill brought by the government to amend the Act was aimed at making the specialised force more efficient.
Moving the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for passage in Lok Sabha, Shah said the amendments were in keeping with the basic spirit of the Act.
He said the bill provides that SPG will provide security to the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
It will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him for five years from the date on which he ceases to hold the office.
Shah said a prime minister and former prime minister were assassinated leading to "big loss" and Special Protection Group Act, 1988 was brought following recommendations of an expert committee and had seen changes in the past.
"It was diluted at different times," he said.
The minister said that the Prime Minister is given SPG protection as he is the head of the government and has to take tough decisions concerning internal and external security.
"It is aimed at neutralizing all dangers," he said.
Citing examples, he said many countries have dedicated forces who only protect their heads of government. "The aim (of the bill) is that there is more efficiency (in the force) and there is no lapse," he said.
Shah said the spirit of the bill was reflected in its title and the system of protection has been created according to the stature of the post.
The SPG, he said not only provides physical security to Prime Minister but also protects his office, communications.
He said the word 'Special' in the Act refers to the security of prime minister.
"The word 'Protection' does not refer to only physical security but communications, office and is in accordance with the dignity and stature of the post.'
The word 'Group' in SPG, he said, refers to specialised elite training where there is no dilution in its efficiency.

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First Published: Nov 27 2019 | 6:36 PM IST

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